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[The New Publicness]

An International, Public, Anonymous, Single Stage, Conceptual Architectural – Urbanistic Design Competition


The Think Space Programme in 2015 is returning in form of a Special Edition under the topic THINK public SPACE. The focus of this Special Edition will be directed on urban public space in the European context. On this occasion Think Space is teaming up with an ambitious and comprehensive project of revitalization of public spaces in the City of Zagreb Zagreb for Me which is being executed by the Zagreb Society of Architects in cooperation with the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Zagreb.

Zagreb for Me project is seeking to enhance the quality of public spaces in the city of Zagreb through 17 architectural and urbanistic interventions including the public, professionals and municipality raising thereby consciousness and importance of the subject of public space through the project Zagreb for Me. Within the mentioned project, the Think Space Competition will strive to seek out solutions for public spaces on conceptual and theoretical levels exploring the possibilities and questioning the character of public space in present-day social, geo-political and economical context.


Competition Brief


Cities around Europe are grounds of ever intensifying conflict between two paradigms. On the one hand side we are witnesses of urban development as an infrastructure of global capital, and on the other hand side the traditional idea of maintaining the concept of a city as a political place in which sovereignty thrives on public squares. While the first paradigm sees the private interests necessarily transform into public ones, the other looks upon public sphere as the last defensive line against gentrification. Architecture, in this case acts as a discipline providing the spatial and physical framework for this conflict of interests in public space.

*Athenian Agora, 2nd century AD

The recent financial crisis completely changed the flows of these two paradigms. Accumulation of market values through real-estate and territorial resources experienced an economical collapse, while on the other side this economical breakdown resulted in questioning the legitimacy of the political system that produced it. In times of insecurity the lost public sphere has again taken over the city squares in order to return the struggling economy back to the sphere of the political decision making, as demonstrated with the Occupy movement to the recent successes of the Greek Syriza party and the Podemos movement in Spain.

The breakdown of economical and political paradigms in public space unveils again its dual role which can be decisive in this turbulent period of the European continent. Public space emerged as an amalgam in which private interests have been exercised (market place, trading etc), but also as a place of recognizing and acknowledging of common interests as well as a place of representation of public institutions (political, religious, social).

So the public space incorporates a little bit of, both the private (houshold – oikos), and the public (polis). In other words the public sphere is a universal field in which the individual invests his or her interest and in which he or she is found dislocated from the everyday role, or as Slavoj Žižek puts it: „This universality-for-itself is not simply external (or above) the particular context: it is inscribed into it, it perturbs and affects it from within, so that the identity of the particular is split into its particular and its universal aspect. “

*Puerta de sol, Madrid, May 2011, photographer Damir Sekulic

What we are witnessing nowadays across Europe is the powerlessness of the economical logics and the accompanying social reproduction, as well as that of the politics, to mark this split within the individual which thereby destabilizes the fundamental trust in institutions which enable the individual to become a part of the common society. Although the universality, and so the public sphere as well, is merely a form without a real content, an emptiness in which every individual inscribes the consequences of the division into particular and universal identity, a fact remains that the form in itself is effective, it leaves traces in the existence and perception of the individual, directs its decisions, dreams, imaginations and his ultimate actions in space. In today’s context it serves to suppress the economical differences becoming more evident, as well as the re-politicization of public space. But how long will this be possible?

*courtesy of Ben Tolman, author


As the public space of a city is a key place of conflict of economical and political paradigms of the society the task is to respond to the question of architecture’s ability (as a specific discipline) to intervene in this process. What is actually the support and function of architecture in times of growing economical and political instability and its repercussions on public space? Is architecture forced to rely on its own knowledge, its own form in these times, or, and how to include other disciplines in co-creating the public sphere? Or is this a hidden opportunity to liberate architecture of superfluous narratives? In the end, to what extent can architectural form play the role of the universal form, a place in which conditions for creating an Event are formed, in which interests and conflicts are mitigated and which constitutes a public sphere and a physical space for all users? Scenarios are to be created of human interaction and their manifestations in public space of a city within the European context.

In accordance with the premises of the Programme founded in 2010 by the Zagreb Society of Architects, progressive thinking about space and architecture is expected of the Competitors conducted through spatial-social experiments, which might be used as a bases for future research, studies, projects and realizations erasing the limits between architecture and associated disciplines.

The wanted scenarios have to answer the above stated questions, offering solutions on scale of small to medium interventions in real or imagined urban locations. Abstracting local problems to the level of a European or universal discourse is encouraged within the Competition, enabling specific sites within the city to equally communicate and to act independently of a centre and/or periphery. By creating a network of activities in a public space of a city for the benefit of all users, the aim is to anticipate and contribute to creating added values of public space. The competitors should take into account the possible realization of the project within the cityscape as well as its applicability in different contexts without a loss off the basic concept of the work.


Emil Jurcan, M Arch. 
(*1981, Pula, Croatia) graduated architecture in Ljubljana (2007) where he took part in the work of Temp collective (2004-05). Since 2006 he is active in Pulska grupa (Pula group) with whom he collaborated in organizing architecture workshop “Katarina 06” in Pula (2006), making of “Red Plan of Pula” (2008), exhibiting on the Biennale of Young Artist from Europe and Mediterranean in Bari (2008), organizing the conference “Post-capitalist City” in Pula (2009), making of the Croatian pavilion on Venice Biennale of Architecture (2012). He participated on several international art exhibitions such as Tirana International Contemporary Art Biennale (2009) and EVENTO Art Biannual in Bordeaux (2011). He is currently working in engineer cooperative “Praksa” in Pula.

Tomislav Pletenac, PhD

is associate professor in the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Studies in Zagreb. At the same faculty Pletenac earned the docent position after acquring PhD degree with Ethnology as a Product of Transculturation thesis. During his doctoral studies he specialized at the international project Teching and Writing in Postsocialist and Postcolonial Context (2001-2004). He participated in numerous conferences abroad and in the country. Since 2007 until 2009 he was Head of Department, and remained Head of Cathedra of Cultural Anthropology until today. Pletenac participated in lecturing from 1996. He teaches Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, and Methods and Techniques in Culture Research. Today,  he leads the following courses: Theory of Cultural Anthropology, Ethnography of Popular Culture at the undergraduate studies, and Culture of Post-socialism,  and Postcolonialism and Gender at the graduate studies. At the doctoral studies Pletenac is Head of Contemporary Problems in Cultural Anthropology module and teaches an elective course Anthropology of Violence. Aside from his academic work he is engaged in documentary filmography as screenwriter and manager.

Damir Sekulić, M Arch.
is an architect working in Zagreb. He graduated at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Zagreb and received his Master of Advanced Architectural Projects degree from ETSAM, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. He is an award winning author in various open architectural competitions. Sekulić participated in a number of international workshops and has worked as assistant teacher at the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb, as well as gained professional experience in Argentina, Spain and Croatia. Besides currently holding the position of web content editor at Zagreb Society of Architects, he has written about architecture for various media.


THINK public SPACE Competition

Launch 27 April 2015
Questions Deadline 20 May 2015
Submission Deadline 30 June 2015
Results Announcement 25 July 2015

Call for Papers 2015

Call Announcement 17 June 2015
Abstract Submission 27 July 2015
Full Paper Submission 10 September 2015
Results Announcement 17 September 2015

IV (un)Conference

Early Bird Registration 20 April 2015
Early Bird Closed 15 July 2015
Late Bird Closed 30 September 2015
Conference 2-3 October 2015

competition JURORS 

Aristide Antonas
Greek architect and writer, holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Nanterre, University of Paris X. Antonas has been a visiting lecturer in Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT), Instituto Universitario de Architetura de Venezia (IUAV), Architectural Association (AA), University of Cyprus Program of Architecture, University Jose Cela (Madrid), Fine Art Academy of Gyumri (Armenia), Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Technische Universität München, Politecnico di Milano.  He has worked with  the Center of Mediterranean Architecture in Crete for its Architecture workshops program and is co-founder of the curatorial group Built Event (Island built Event, Landscape Biennial of Barcelona, 2006 - Sao Paulo Biennial of Architecture 2007, Weak Monuments, 2nd Biennale of Thessaloniki). He was co-curator of the Greek Pavilion for the Venice Biennale in 2004 (Paradigmata) and he is a contributor for the Tranzit Display's Monument to Transformation (Prague and Bratislava, curated by Vit Havránek and Zbyněk Baladrán). His essays are mostly published in the Internet, his literature books are printed in Greek (Agra Editions) and one short story in English (jrp Ringier, Zurich). Two of his theatre scripts were performed in French and one in Greek. The Antonas office functions as an architectural research studio and was nominated for a Mies Van der Rohe Award in 2009 and for the International Iakov Chernikhov Prize in 2010.

Ana Dana Beroš
is an independent architect, curator, editor, educator and exhibition designer, graduated cum laude from the Zagreb Faculty of Architecture, with international professional experience. Co-founder of non-profit group ARCHIsquad, a division for architecture with conscience, and project coordinator of its educational programmes: 'Out of Focus: Architecture of Giving' , Winner of Merit Award at Shinkenchiku competition in Japan, awarded by Jun Aoki in 2009. One of the initiators and board members of THINK SPACE programme and co-curator of its exhibition 'Competitive Hypothesis' at Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, in 2013. Author of many exhibition designs, last 'Zero Point of Meaning' being displayed at Camera Austria, Kunsthaus in Graz. Editor of Oris magazine. Recently, she has been selected by Rem Koolhaas, the Curator of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, as one the contributors in ‘Monditalia’ section as part of 'Fundamentals' organized by la Biennale di Venezia where she received a special mention by the jury. Furthermore, she has been recognized as an early-career architect who has demonstrated exceptional design talent and shows promise for continued creative work - and selected among 7 finalists for the Wheelwright Prize - a awarded by Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design GSD in 2014.

Izaskun Chinchilla Moreno
Graduated Architect since 2001 from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain). She is driving her own office since 2001 in Madrid. She has a long and deep experience in education. She is Senior Teaching Fellow and Researcher in Barlett School of Architecture (UCL London, UK). She has also teached in Ecole Special (Paris, France) and in HEAD University (Geneva, Switzerland). She was Studio Professor in the University of Alicante (Escuela de Arquitectura Universidad de Alicante) from 2002 to 2007 and she is at the moment in Madrid University (Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain) and in Instituto de Empresa (Madrid, Spain). Her designer activity is acompanied by a research project called “Social and Aesthetic Repercussions of technical topics and solutions which take ecology into account” and that has taken her as visitting scholar to Columbia University in New York (2002), Ecole de Mines de Paris (2003) and Princeton University in New Jersey (2004) and also to the Institut d´Arquitectura Avancada de Catalunya (Barcelona), in a Postgraduate Master (2003-2007).
As speaker she has participated in forum, lectures and debates in more than 80 international destinies and more than 90 different magazines and publications has talked about the proposals from her office. Her work has taken part of the exhibitions in 8ª Biennale di Venezia, 10ª Biennale di Venezia, V Bienal de Arquitectura y Diseño de Sao Paulo in traveling exhibitions as New Trends Europe-Asia, Panorama Emergente Iberoamericano or Europan 7 and in different museums and LIGA (México DF), Galeries including Gallery “mad is mad” (Madrid), Arquerias de Nuevos Ministerios del Ministerio de la Vivienda (Madrid), la Casa Encendida (Madrid), Museo de Teruel (Teruel) and several Profesional Associations for Architects in Spain and several Universities in the same Country. As an architect, she claims for a strong compromise with innovation. In her project she proposes multidisciplinary exercises in which, through ecology, sociology or science, architecture goes beyond stylistic distinctions and meets again the complexity of real life in our contemporary world. She has won more than 20 different prizes in professional competitions.

Jan Liesegang
is a member of raumlabor. "They do urban design, architectural design, building, interactive environments, research." Jan Liesegang born in Cologne in 1968, he studied Architecture in Berlin (TU Berlin), Copenhagen (Kunstakademie) and New York (Cooper Union, School of Architecture). He received a prize for best Diploma in 1997, worked 3 years for Sauerbruch/ Hutton Architects, was Assistant of Prof. Matthias Sauerbruch and Guest Professor at Art Academy Stuttgart, residency in Villa Massimo/ Roma in 2010, founded raumlabor in 1999.

Karin Šerman
is an architect and architectural theorist,Professor of Architectural Theory at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Architecture. She is the Head of the History and Theory Department, and Head of the Architecture Theory Module of the doctoral program at the Zagreb Faculty of Architecture. She also teaches architectural theory at the University of Split. Her work focuses on modern and contemporary architecture and culture, and current theoretical research. She has written extensively on Central European and Croatian architectural history and contemporary architectural scene. She graduated in architecture from the Zagreb Faculty of Architecture in 1989, received her Master in Design Studies degree in History and Theory of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1996, and her PhD from the University of Zagreb in 2000.

In 2014 she was the commissioner and curator of the Croatian entry at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale Fundamentals. With her curatorial team she set up the exhibition Fitting Abstraction, in which they answered to the outlined theme Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014, by analysing hundred years of Croatian architecture culture. For that interpretation she was awarded Croatian Architects Association’s award Neven Šegvić for theoretical and research work.